Biowearables (E-wearables)

Conversation Starters about Wearable Tech and Kids — for Families

Here are some conversation starters, based on our research, which you can use to start a dialogue with your child or teen about their e-wearable device or app. We’ve used the word “device" but you can just swap in what your child is using (e.g. Garmin or Apple watch, FitBit, Headspace for Kids app etc).

We’ve love to hear how your conversations go! Dr. Alissa Antle []

  1. In what ways do you think long-term use of your device might impact you? What ways are positive? What ways might be not so good?
  2. What about this device might make take up a lot of your attention and become addictive?
  3. Does your device allows you to set, modify and celebrate your own goals as they change over time or does it tell you what to do?
  4. If you use this kind of device over time, how do you think it might make you feel about yourself?
  5. How do you think the device can support you to develop into the kind of person you want to be?
  6. If you use this device over time, how might it help you to learn to control your behavior in ways you want?
  7. Do you think the information from your device know more about you that you do? How accurate do you think the data is?
  8. If you use this kind of device a lot over time, in what ways do you think it could change your behavior, which could eventually even change your brain or body over time?

Biotech Design Cards for UX and Design Practitioners 

We created the biotech design cards for practitioners creating smartwatch, fitbit and tracking apps and devices.  There are six cards (marked #1) that describe six main ethical concerns related to biowearables and children. There are matching cards (marked #2) that provide questions to consider during design and development.

The card set was created for our biowearable-tangible youth workshop (see below). You can easily substitute your own design context where you see icons for inputs, displays, and processing algorithms (backs of card 2).

Printable version of biotech design cards. 

We’ve love to hear how you use our cards! Dr. Alissa Antle []

Research Overview

The goal of this research project is to reach an understanding of the complex relations between ethics, social impact, and values related to the interactions between biowearables (also called e-wearables) and children. Children are increasingly becoming sensed, tracked, and augmented with technologies known as biowearbles. Their biodata will be fed into apps that will impact their sense of self, who they turn to for authority about themselves, and even their physiology. Therefore, in this project we explore the ethical and social implications of these emerging technologies. 


The first phase of this project involved describing the potential ethical issues of biowearables on children’s identity formation, the development of autonomy and agency, and what sources of information children turn to for authority about themselves. We then designed a framework in which to scaffold critical reflection on ethical issues in a making workshop for youth. We designed and developed two artifacts to help scaffold reflection: a breathing biowearable-tangible kit and a set of critical reflection cards. We conducted multiple design iterations of these artifacts, which were designed for an in-person working at SFU Library’s Media and Maker Commons. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to pivot to an online format that was conducted with an Atlantic-Canada industry partner, Brilliant Labs. So far, our pilot study has shown promising results for our framework and biowearable kit in an online distributed learning setting with youth.


Watch a video demo of our biowearable-tangible prototyping kit version 2.0.


Alissa N. Antle, Project and Design Lead

Yumiko Murai, Project and Education Lead

Jeff Wilson, Brilliant Labs Executive Director

Natacha Vautour, Brilliant Labs Special Projects

Josh Keys, Brilliant Labs Innovation Engineer

Amanda Sherman, Purchasing Coordinator

Alex Kitson, Project and Design Co-Lead

Azadeh Adibi, Research Assistant

Yves Candau, Research Assistant

Katrien Jacobs, Research Assistant

Zoë Dao-Kroeker, Research Assistant


Alissa N. Antle, Invited Presenter, Participatory design ethics: Gen Z and biowearable electronic devices, Digital Democracies Institute Fall Speaker Series, Virtual, November 3, 2021. [video]

Alissa N. Antle, Invited Presenter, Designing on-body smart apps for youth well-being: What you need to know. 2021. Radical Research Summit, Virtual, September 28, 2021. [video]



  • Alissa N. Antle, Alexandra Kitson, 2021. 1,2,3,4 tell me how to grow more: A position paper on children, design ethics and biowearables. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, Volume 30, Elsevier, 100328, ISSN 2212-8689, DOI
  • Yumiko Murai, Alissa N. Antle, Alexandra Kitson, Yves Candau, Azadeh Adibi, Zoë Dao-Kroeker, John Desnoyers-Stewart, and Katrien Jacobs. 2021. Facilitating online distributed critical making: Lessons learned. In FabLearn Europe / MakeEd 2021 – An International Conference on Computing, Design and Making in Education (FabLearn Europe / MakeEd 2021). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 9, 1–9. DOI
  • Zoë Minh-Tam Dao-Kroeker, Alexandra Kitson, Alissa N. Antle, Yumiko Murai, and Azadeh Adibi. 2021. Designing biotech ethics cards: Promoting critical making during an online workshop with youth. In Interaction Design and Children (IDC '21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 450–455. DOI
  • Alissa N. Antle, Alexandra Kitson, Yumiko Murai, John Desnoyers-Stewart, Yves Candau, Azadeh Adibi, Katrien Jacobs, and Zoë Dao-Kroeker. 2021. Opportunities and scaffolds for critical reflection on ethical issues in an online after school biowearable workshop for youth. In FabLearn Europe / MakeEd 2021 – An International Conference on Computing, Design and Making in Education (FabLearn Europe / MakeEd 2021). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 13, 1–5. DOI